Help for Athletes with Asthma

While asthma is a growing health concern, it doesn’t have to take athletes out of the game. Here are some thoughts on asthma and how to control it.

athlete asthma

Facts About Asthma

  • Asthma is the constriction of the smooth muscle around the airways, a swelling of the mucosal cells, and increased secretion of mucous.
  • Asthma is often caused by certain infections, allergic reactions, environmental factors, and sometimes exercise.
  • Asthma is the most common respiratory disorder affecting both children and adults.
  • Asthma is characterized by shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, coughing and wheezing.
  • Asthma can be chronic or exercise-induced.

What to Do if an Athlete Has Asthma?

Surveys indicate that 12 to 23 percent of high school and college athletes have exercise-induced asthma. But that shouldn’t stop them from being active.
The key is to educate not just the athletes but also the coaches. Here are some recommendations for asthma management:

  • Avoid outdoor workouts when the conditions aren’t good, especially when the pollen and mold counts are high.
  • Use a ski mask or scarf while training outdoors during winter.
  • Breathe through the nose instead of the mouth while exercising.
  • Practice a proper warm-up routine followed by a cool-down routine.
  • Drink plenty of water before and during exercise.
  • Keep an inhaler at all times.
  • Use the inhaler several minutes before exercise.
  • Keep the workout intensity low for the first 10 to 15 minutes. Gradually, increase over a period of time.
  • Avoid grueling exercise when suffering from respiratory infections.

Asthma Treatment:

Talk to your physician about treatment options. If the above list isn’t adequate to help with your symptoms, consider immunotherapy treatment options. When
asthma is allergy-related (and it often is), immunotherapy can help “rewire” your immune system so that it stops reacting to allergens in the environment.
Medications such as steroids/inhalers can help with the symptoms of allergy, but immunotherapy can help treat the very source of it so that allergic
reactions occur less or stop occurring. Contact AllergyEasy for information on sublingual immunotherapy using under-the-tongue
drops (instead of shots that have to be administered at the doctor’s office).

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.